Yglesias

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

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It’s really eerie to watch the Bush administration meander along ruining the implementation of all these efforts to shore up the financial sector while the world of journalism is left to wonder who’s going to run which departments in an Obama administration. And even though the Obama-Biden Transition has thus far been one of the fastest and smoothest in American history, there are still many, many, many additional levels of transitioning to be done. Tim Geithner is going to be Secretary of the Treasury. But who’s Deputy Secretary? Who’ll be his Chief of Staff? His Deputy Chief of Staff? His Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Policy? His Deputy Assistant Secretary for Government Financial Policy? Just look at how many senior staff positions there are to fill.

It’s worth recalling at moments like these that things don’t have to be this way. In a parliamentary system of government, the leader of the opposition would have been expected to compose a shadow cabinet before the election and then the new team could just be snapped into place. And at the same time, most countries don’t have nearly the volume of political appointees that the United States does — just a handful per department, not dozens like we have.